News

Family rescued by Zimmerman fears link to ‘Good Samaritan’

Family rescued by Zimmerman fears link to ‘Good Samaritan’

The family rescued from a car accident by George Zimmerman canceled plans to thank him publicly. Photo: Associated Press

MIAMI (Reuters) – The family rescued from a car accident by George Zimmerman, days after he was cleared of wrongdoing in the fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, canceled plans to thank him publicly because they fear being linked to someone reviled by many Americans, Zimmerman’s lawyer said on Wednesday.

“The family, who really wanted to thank George for doing what he did publicly … realized that in any way connecting yourself with George Zimmerman is right now very toxic,” Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman’s lead attorney, told CNN.

O’Mara, underscoring the amount of hate directed toward Zimmerman, spoke after canceling a planned news conference with the family, where he said Zimmerman was due to be recognized as a “Good Samaritan.”

Zimmerman helped pluck two children and their parents to safety from a Ford Explorer sport utility vehicle on Wednesday last week, after it overturned in an accident on a central Florida highway, authorities said.

The incident occurred barely four days after Zimmerman, 29, was acquitted by a Florida jury of murder and manslaughter in the killing of Martin, who he claims to have shot in self-defense.

Mark and Dana Michelle Gerstle, who were rescued with their children from the overturned SUV, have refused to talk to the media and have posted a “no trespassing” sign outside their central Florida home.

The verdict in the racially charged case has sparked protests in cities across the country, as well as calls to review Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law, which allows people who fear their lives are in danger to use deadly force rather than retreat.

O’Mara told CNN there had been a surge in the number of death threats against Zimmerman since his acquittal, which has left many people across the country angry.

He added, in an answer to a question from CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, that Zimmerman, who is licensed to carry a concealed weapon, is armed and taking all due precautions to protect his personal safety.

“I think it’s more important now than before February 26, 2012, that he have an ability to protect himself because of the extraordinary amount of anger that is out there. Yes, he’s protecting himself,” O’Mara said.

The date he cited was when Zimmerman shot the 17-year-old Martin through the heart at point-blank range with his 9mm semiautomatic Kel-Tec handgun.

That weapon, now in the custody of the U.S. Justice Department as it considers bringing civil charges against Zimmerman, will never be used again, O’Mara said.

“That gun will never be used by anyone again. That needs to be destroyed and just be done with,” he said.

Recent Headlines

1 hour ago in National

Takata recall could more than double in size

Fresh
takata16125303396828

Tens of millions of air bag inflators could be added to what is already the biggest auto recall in American history.

2 hours ago in Sports

Deflategate: Brady gets more time

Fresh
tombrady276076991807

Lawyers for the New England Patriots quarterback have been given another two weeks to appeal his "Deflategate" suspension.

2 hours ago in Sports

Kentucky Bourbon Trail offers a lesson for reviving racing’s fans

derby16124571363511

Some of the best-known farms in Kentucky's scenic horse country are borrowing from another of the state's contributions to the good life — bourbon whiskey distilleries — in an effort to win new recruits to an aging and shrinking fan base.

2 hours ago in National

School safety: Drops in bullying, violent crime on campus

schoolsafety16124794280762

The latest government snapshot of school crime paints a picture of safer schools, with declines in violent crime, bullying and harassment because of sexual orientation.

2 hours ago in Entertainment

Dan Aykroyd adapting ‘Blues Brothers’ for animated series

danaykroyd391647313397

The animated project will also feature the band's original songs, as well as soul and blues classics, and new material recorded specially for the series, which Aykroyd will help to develop alongside "Saturday Night Live" writer Anne Beatts.